Narikkoravar’s constitutional struggle for dignity and representation

 

NDMJ-NCDHR

It has been four and a half decades since the Narikoravan (a) Kuruvikaran community has been waging a constitutional struggle for Scheduled Tribe status.

Narikoravan is a nomadic tribe involved in the making of 'rudrasksha malai' and other such long chains, rosary beads which have been historically part of temple economies. Their products find great demand among pilgrims who travel to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Pathanamthita, Kerala. Narikuravars are also itinerant sellers of plastic vessels and other daily utilities. Their population is not more than 30,000 in Tamil Nadu. They have no representation in any decision-making bodies. Presently, they are listed under Most Backward Classes in Tamil Nadu and among Other Backward Classes in the Central Government List.

narikkuravar

 For Narikuravars, it has been almost impossible to transcend their traditional occupation. Several first generation learners go back to their traditional occupation due to lack of facilities and difficulties embedded in claiming and furnishing their MBC/OBC status. The first generation learners from the community who are leading the movement articulate their demand in terms of better and meaningful access to modern facilities and educational infrastructure.

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Why are we afraid of the caste census?

 

Bhanwar Meghwanshi

The entire debate is centred on removing the caste column in the census questionnaire while the real problem is caste itself. Why is no one talking about annihilating caste?

caste census bhanwar meghwanshi

Caste census:Crucial for identification of weakers sections of society. Photo: AP

In rural India, even today, the first words uttered by way of introduction when two persons meet are — "what is your caste....?"; a piece of information people seem most enthusiastic to elicit from each other before anything else. Political parties have caste-based cells and caste arithmetic becomes the basis on which tickets are allotted. Every caste recognises jati panchayats, has its mahasabhas and often, caste-based armed forces (senas) are constituted. Thousands of publications are brought out across the country to invoke caste sentiments in people. Whether Haridwar or Pushkar, the bathing ghats are segregated on the lines of caste. Who can offer archana in temples, bridegrooms of which caste can sit on the horse — caste governs even such specifics practised till date in our country. Even today, khap panchayats based on castes, sub-castes and further, gotras,flourish and decree inhuman decisions.

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Oppose the modalities of reservation adopted by Delhi University

 

Balancing Interests: Two reasons to oppose the current modalities of reservation adopted by Delhi University

Hany Babu M.T.

Delhi University teachers are witnessing a peculiar phase. On the one hand, a large number of teachers who have been relegated to the status of "adhoc teachers" for years on end see some glimmer of hope for a much deserved and long awaited "permanent" status as the University and many of its colleges have started advertising for permanent posts after a long span. On the other hand, some groups of teachers from the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes have moved the High Court challenging the way in which the University and its colleges have adopted the 200 point post based recruitment roster (in the matter of Delhi University SC/ST/OBC Teachers Forum and another vs. University of Delhi and others (WP(C) 803 of 2014 at the High Court of Delhi)).

For a large number of onlookers, the scenario is a bit bewildering as the University, for the first time, seems to have made some positive steps towards the proper implementation of reservation as reflected by two factors: (i) the number of seats earmarked for the reserved categories has definitely gone up as reflected in the advertisements that have come out both for the departments and for the colleges in the university; and (ii) for the first time, reservation has been extended in the cadres of associate professor and professor for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. What, then, has driven the teachers from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes to court, people wonder.

One question that bothers many is this: when things seem to have taken a positive turn for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and the Other Backward Classes, is it justifiable that a group of teachers have approached the High Court? Maybe they do have some grievance, but, then, doesn't their moving the Court have the undesirable consequence that appointments may get stalled, in which case the interest of thousands of adhoc teachers will get affected. Some even go to the extent of accusing the teachers who have moved the Court of having ulterior motives, or of having been motivated by political factions that may have their own vested interest in stalling the appointments. Interestingly, a group who had always seemed to be unhappy with the reservation policy have also become quite active in hurling such accusations. On the other side, the groups pushing for speedy appointments are accused of being supporters of an administration that has shown scant regard for a dialogic engagement with teachers and students who, for quite justifiable reasons, have differed with and have opposed vehemently the views of the administrators. Even if we give a long rope, the fact that it is more or less the same groups that have supported all the reforms of the administration and that press for speedy appointments with the existing modalities begs for some explanation.

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Dalit and Adivasi students prepare to fight: National Dalit and Adivasi Students' Parliament

Note on the

National Dalit and Adivasi Students' Parliament

to be held on 9th December, 2013, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

~

Abhay Xaxa, Prachi R Beula and Babita Negi

In the words of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, education is milk of the lioness which will empower everyone who drinks it. History stands witness to the fact that education has been used as a weapon of oppression by the Brahmanical forces to enslave the Dalits and Adivasi communities by denying them fundamental human rights and thereby pushed them to the margins of socio-economic development.

dalit adivasi chhatra sammelan

ऐ दोस्त !
सिमटे से हुए शिक्षा के इस दायरे के
अंदर-बाहर
हाशिये पर धकेल दी गईं तुम्हारी चाहतें, ज़रूरतें
कौन कौन से फ़र्ज़ी कलंकों का
जाने कब से - जैसे
जुर्माना अदा कर रही हैं!

तुम्हारी इज़ज़त
तुम्हारे अधिकारों का फ़लसफ़ा
जाने कितने वेदों की साजिशी इबारतों तले
जाने कब से कसमसा रहा है

जिस शिक्षा ने
फैलना था तुम्हारे जीवन में
पहुंचना था ज़हन की कोशिकाओं में
शादाब इक मंज़र लिए
जिन संसाधनों पर
कुदरती-मौलिक तुम्हारे हक़ो-हुक़ूक़ के साथ
लिखी जानी थी
तुम्हारे भी
मनुष्य होने की इबारत
सब कुछ तो जैसे, आज भी
ख़तरनाक़ तौर पर, वीरान है

प्राकृतिक तो छोड़ो......
तुम्हारे कानूनी अधिकारों को उन्होंने
रियायतों के रंग में रंग दिया है
छात्रवृतियों में सेंध लगा रखी है
बहुतेरे छात्रवास कागज़ों में ज़िंदा हैं
और जो हैं भी दरअसल
उनमें और कब्रिस्तान के सन्नाटों में
क्या फर्क है बता दोस्त !!
कल का एक अदद भविष्य
हमारे आज के ज़हन की पोटली में
क्या रखा है, देख रहा है
टटोल रहा है

देख रहा है हमारी ओर
और क्या हम
आने वाली अपनी पुश्तों के
पैरों में
देखना चाहते हैं
यथा-स्थिति वाला वही सफ़र
मजबूरियों के अन्धकार में ढला
ऊबड़ खाबड़ ?

उनके पैर
छालों भरे तलवों के साथ ??

ऐ दोस्त, जो सूरते-हाल ये है
क्यूँ न अपने ज़हन का आज
मंज़र बदल दें
एक कदम आगे बढ़ें
इक साथ हम - और कह दें
हाँ ! शिक्षा, संसाधनों और सभी
सवैधानिक हक़ों समेत
इस मुल्क की हिस्सेदारी में
मेरे हिस्से का मुल्क
अब मेरा है
और अपना हक़ हम ले के रहेंगे !

कि ज़िन्दगी कोई सस्ती शै नहीं होती !!

ऐ मेरे युवा दलित-आदिवासी दोस्त
तुम्हें भी क्या यही लगता है ??

~ Gurinder Azad.

From Ekalavya to Balmukund Bharti, Anil Kumar Meena and just now, Madari Venkatesh, history is full of discrimination towards Dalit and Adivasi students. On the other hand Dalit and Adivasi communities have used education as an instrument to assert their dignity and rights. The two communities have understood the importance of education for their path to development. Perhaps, therefore, the Dalit and Adivasi communities have a strong desire for education. The testimony of this fact can be seen in the increasing number of SC/ST students' enrolment in primary education, increasing literacy level among the two communities and their presence in higher education. The will power for education among SC/ST students has always emerged as a challenge to casteist mentality which considers SC/ST students as a threat to the Brahmanical supremacy.

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Slips between the cup and the lip: The sorry state of reservation in Central Universities

 

Hany Babu M.T.

A massive recruitment exercise is just about to get under way at the University of Delhi. The University has recently advertized for 665 teaching positions with the break up as follows: Professor: 99, Associate Professor: 206, and Assistant Professor: 360. This round of recruitment, however, raises a grave concern with respect to the implementation of reservation in general and OBC reservation in particular. What is most paradoxical is that this round of recruitment is taking place after the University has finally conceded to two longstanding demands: (1) the implementation of reservation in the Professor and Associate Professor posts and (2) the implementation of the 200-point roster taking the college and the postgraduate departments (as the case may be) as a single unit. However, living up to its notorious reputation with respect to the implementation of reservation, the University is all set to violate all norms, thereby depriving the reserved categories of thousands of posts.

Apart from the current state of reservation in the teaching positions at the University of Delhi, this paper also looks at the larger picture of OBC reservation in the teaching faculty positions and identifies two factors that have colluded to deny OBCs their rightful share in the recruitment of teaching faculty. Firstly, though the Central Government implemented OBC reservation in 1993, Central Universities adopted OBC reservation in teaching positions only in 2007. There has so far been no attempt to take into account the consequent shortfall in OBC reservation. Secondly, the brahminical forces have conspired to deprive reservation for OBC in the posts of Associate Professor and Professor. This means that OBCs are deprived an equal chance to move upward in the academic hierarchy, which would, among other things, also deprive them adequate representation in the decision making bodies, as OBCs are very scantily represented in the higher positions in the academic echelons.

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A sure way to produce Dalit dropouts

 

Udit Raj & Hany Babu

The article in The Hindu by Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, on the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) in the University of Delhi (Op-Ed, "Drop the rhetoric, start the debate," June 1, 2013) raises certain important issues.

du multiple exit points

The multiple exit points could become traps for students who are less privileged. Photo: Meeta Ahlawat

Mr. Tharoor, like most of the mainstream media in India, seems to be unaware of the arguments that are currently being made in opposition to the FYUP. The issue is no more confined to course structure or syllabi. Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class (SC/ST/OBC) groups have advocated caution on the potential of the new programme to make the reservation policy mandated by the Constitution nugatory, as a large number of students from SC/ST/OBC groups may not be able to complete four years of education. The multiple exit points may become death traps for these students. In spite of the claims made by the university that every student can do a four-year honours degree in the new scheme, the percentage of reserved category students will dwindle in the third and fourth years. They will exit with unequal degrees, the equalising force of education will be lost, and the social stratification will be further hardened.

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Caste-based discrimination a major structural factor underlying poverty: UN

 

media-statement

Continued plight of the 'untouchables'

UN experts call for strengthened protection of more than 260 million victims of caste-based discrimination

GENEVA (24 May 2013) – They occupy the lowest levels of strict, hierarchical caste systems founded on notions of purity, pollution and inequality. They face marginalization, social and economic exclusion, segregation in housing, limited access to basic services including water and sanitation and employment, enforcement of certain types of menial jobs, and working conditions similar to slavery.

They are the Dalits of South Asia, who constitute the majority of victims of entrenched caste-based discrimination systems which affect some 260 million stigmatized people worldwide, people considered 'untouchable'.

"Caste-based discrimination remains widespread and deeply rooted, its victims face structural discrimination, marginalization and systematic exclusion, and the level of impunity is very high," a group of United Nations human rights experts warned today, while urging world Governments to strengthen protection of the hundreds of millions of people across the globe who suffer from discrimination based on work and descent.

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